While some people like to think the album is dead, long live the album! You can shuffle your tunes all you want and mix and match to your heart's content, but there is still something exciting about grabbing a complete album, a thematic song cycle, so to speak, and immersing yourself in the wonders of it all. A single song is a great pick-me-up, but an entire album is a meal.
Here are the five nominees for Album of the Year:
1) Adele -- 21: Considering she's already been the Academy's Best New Artist, it seems likely that Adele could run the table with a number of awards. By the sheer sales numbers and Billboard chart position, 21 is owned by just about everyone in the free world. That she is a pure singer who does things the old fashioned way is likely to play nicely with voters who remember their coffeehouse days and wish those days, along with their youth, would make a comeback. No argument from me. Adele earned this one.
2) Foo Fighters -- Wasting Light: The only thing more pronounced than "The Album is Dead" trend is the "Rock is Dead" bandwagon. Rock 'n' roll may not have as many places to air its sound with the lack of rock stations on the radio dial. New rockers are surely at a disadvantage, but one of rock's younger veterans (he just turned 43!), Dave Grohl, is still allowed entry onto the limited radio waves and into our rock 'n' roll hearts. My only concern here is that the 'under 40' crowd will see this as proof that rock music is for old people. If only I could explain to them that back in my day…
3) Lady Gaga -- Born This Way: No one, outside of politics, divides public opinion these days like Lady Gaga. This album sold over a million copies its first week of release. Yet, there is a vocal opposition who complain about her mere existence in any forum they can find. It's as if the 'Ron Paul 2012' crowd took part-time jobs as music critics, jamming their anti-Gaga feelings into the comments section of heavy metal videos on YouTube. Her previous album The Fame Monster won Best Pop Vocal Album in 2011, while losing Album of the Year to the Arcade Fire's The Suburbs. Conceivably, she could lose Album of the Year but still pick up Best Pop Vocal Album, which for the record, features the same albums on this list, with the Foo Fighters being switched out for Cee-Lo Green's The Lady Killer.
4) Bruno Mars -- Doo-Wops & Hooligans: Keep in mind, Mars is performing at the Grammys. Bruce Springsteen can tell you how that can work out, as he did when he accepted his award for The Ghost of Tom Joad as Best Contemporary Folk Album in 1996. Mars won Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for "Just The Way You Are" in 2011. But he seems stuck in the role of Artist Nominated For Award But Who Rarely Wins Said Award. He might consider wearing an all-vegetable dress to the ceremony to boost profile.
5) Rihanna -- Loud: Rihanna's most recent album Talk That Talk was released too late in the year to be considered for 2011 (works released after September 30 are not eligible for that year), so November 2010's Loud is the one up for the big award. She's another often nominated, sometimes winner. She's more likely to win the Best Rap/ Sung Collaboration with either "What's My Name?" or "All of the Lights," since she has won that award before, in 2008 for "Umbrella" and in 2010 for "Run This Town." Despite Rihanna's success, she is still the longshot here.